On the other hand, you got record labels that are doing everything they can to piss people off and rip them off. I created a little issue down here because the first thing I did when I got to Sydney is I walk into HMV, the week the record's out, and I see it on the rack with a bunch of other releases. And every release I see: $21.99, $22.99, $24.99. And ours doesn't have a sticker on it. I look close and 'Oh, it's $34.99'. So I walk over to see our live DVD Beside You in Time, and I see that it's also priced six, seven, eight dollars more than every other disc on there. And I can't figure out why that would be.
Q: Did you have a word to anyone?
Well, in Brisbane I end up meeting and greeting some record label people, who are pleasant enough, and one of them is a sales guy, so I say "Why is this the case?" He goes "Because your packaging is a lot more expensive". I know how much the packaging costs -- it costs me, not them, it costs me 83 cents more to have a CD with the colour-changing ink on it. I'm taking the hit on that, not them. So I said "Well, it doesn't cost $10 more". "Ah, well, you're right, it doesn't. Basically it's because we know you've got a core audience that's gonna buy whatever we put out, so we can charge more for that. It's the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy it. True fans will pay whatever". And I just said "That's the most insulting thing I've heard. I've garnered a core audience that you feel it's OK to rip off? F--- you'. That's also why you don't see any label people here, 'cos I said 'F--- you people. Stay out of my f---ing show. If you wanna come, pay the ticket like anyone else. F--- you guys". They're thieves. I don't blame people for stealing music if this is the kind of s--- that they pull off.
Q: Given all that, do you have any idea how to approach the release of your next album?
I've have one record left that I owe a major label, then I will never be seen in a situation like this again. If I could do what I want right now, I would put out my next album, you could download it from my site at as high a bit-rate as you want, pay $4 through PayPal. Come see the show and buy a T-shirt if you like it. I would put out a nicely packaged merchandise piece, if you want to own a physical thing. And it would come out the day that it's done in the studio, not this "Let's wait three months" bulls---.
Reznor seems to be getting pissed off about all the right things these days...
This is all well and good because Trent is an established artist that definitely has a core audience that will purchase whatever he releases. Given the fact that his releases (upto the last two years) have had 5 year intervals, then the label is going to be even more likely to jack his retail price up. They've got to make as much hay while the sun is shining.
What's missing in this story is the fact that he's gotten tremendous marketing and placement since after PHM hit platinum in 1990. Most artists don't get nearly the kind of promotion that he's gotten over his career. Let's not even talk about the fact that his debut album had two of the worlds most successful producers working on it as well, something that could've only been organized by TVT. Let's also not forget that despite being engaged in a lawsuit with Trent, TVT still promoted the hell out of Broken because it was in their best interest to do so. While Trent didn't make as much money from TVT as he might could've, he made enough to situate himself in a good place and took advantage of a great tour to up his brand with fans.
If he were to have to break into today's marketplace, there's no way that he would be so cavalier about how he would distribute his work. He's forgetting that the $10M+ that he's netting after each world tour comes from the fact that he's gotten such good promotion release after release. If he was starting from scratch again, he'd still be doing the opening slot for Jesus and Mary Chain and Peter Murphy and barely able to pay for the tour. This notion of him even being ABLE to make a living using this method of distribution is insulting because it uses revisionist history as its basis. The fact is, like most established artists, his cost basis for producing further releases is much closer to zero due to his investment in millions of dollars in studio infrastructure and ability to attract top engineering talent from his brand name. Those assets came from the fact that major labels have invested in him from the beginning and he's been rewarded for generating good returns on that investment.
I'm not a big fan of the major labels and their business practices. The system needs to change and the models are anachronistic at best. But they do provide a critical function in the value chain and that is promotion and marketing. It's ridiculous for an artist to say that they are completely unnecessary when they've been the benefactor of that marketing machine.
RE: Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails | Herald Sun